New puppies are always a joy to have in the house — and a great responsibility. Whether it’s for housetraining purposes, because you have to work, or general puppy training, just to get your new pup better adjusted, you may have to introduce them to crate life. At first, placing your pup in a crate may cause them to whine or cry while they get used to this new routine. If you’re having trouble with your puppy whining in their crate, keep reading for some helpful tips and tricks on not only how to prevent the whining, but how to stay consistent with crate training, too.
Why Might Puppies Whine In Their Crates?
Listening to your dog whine or cry in their crate for hours on end can be frustrating (and heartbreaking). Here’s the thing: a puppy whining in their crate is typical, normal behavior. Older pups may have an easier go at crate training, as they’ll be able to hold their bladders longer. But young puppies may instinctively start to cry when left alone in a strange, confined space.1
And while some whining is normal, constant keening or howling is not, and it may cause you to feel sad or guilty while trying to crate train your new furry friend. How can you help them adjust to this unfamiliar place? As it turns out, there are plenty of humane, empathetic ways to help your pup that don’t involve just letting them “cry it out.”
Get Your Puppy Comfortable With The Crate
It’s important to understand that crate training your puppy is still a process. You won’t necessarily see results overnight, especially if you have an extremely young dog. However, these tips may help make the process much easier.
Here are some great do’s and don’ts when it comes to crate training:
- Slowly introduce your pup to the crate. Try sprinkling some treats inside for them to munch on or give them their meals in the crate (leave the door open while they eat). This may keep them from associating the crate with anything negative.
- Once they’ve regularly started taking meals in the crate and seem comfortable, practice closing the door for the duration of their meal, opening it immediately when they’re finished eating.
- Come up with a command (like “crate” or “kennel”) that will help the puppy understand when it’s time to go inside.
- Sit quietly near the crate after you’ve closed and latched the door (around five to ten minutes) before moving to another room. This may help them adjust to you not being there while they’re in the crate.
- Put the pup’s favorite toys, or even a shirt/blanket with your scent on it, in the crate to help them feel more comfortable.2
- Don’t force your dog into the crate.
- Don’t rush crate training, especially if you have a rescue dog from an animal shelter or Humane Society. Their past experiences with confined spaces may come into play here, which can inhibit their adjustment period.
- Don’t scold or punish your dog while they’re in the crate or use the crate for time out.
- Don’t let the dog out of the crate if they’re whining excessively. This can teach the dog that if they continue to whine, you’ll eventually let them out of the crate, which is what you’re trying to prevent.3
Yes, this is a lot to remember, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Take things slow and be patient. Implementing these tips into phases or steps can help things seem less daunting and be extra beneficial to your pup, too.
Steps To Prevent Dog Crate Whining
Using the information from the do’s and don’ts list, try incorporating those tips into this four-step program:
Step 1: Crate Introductions
Remember: Keep it positive and brief at first. Entice your pup with their favorite treats and toys if they need a little extra push.
Step 2: Meals in the Crate
If your dog has willingly started to enter the crate, put their food bowls toward the back to further coax them inside. This is when you can start to close the door while they’re eating, then slowly start to increase how long they stay in the crate after eating. (Note: If they start to whine, you may have increased the crate time too quickly.)
Step 3: Lengthen Crate Times Incrementally
This is where all of that coaxing starts to pay off. At first, start lengthening your puppy’s stay in the crate while you wait patiently outside for about ten minutes. You can start to increase this time once they get more comfortable inside the crate.
Step 4: Crate Your Dog When You Leave (And at Night)
To help them become more comfortable with being crated during the day, try crating the dog at night to help them become accustomed to prolonged periods of time inside.
If your dog does start to whine while you’re waiting outside the crate, it’s important to make little to no eye contact. Otherwise, this will alert the dog that you’re aware of their whining or crying and can cause them to continue the behavior.4
Be Consistent With Crate Training
Now that you’re more familiar with the rules of crate training, it’s important to maintain consistency. Not only does this help streamline the process, but it also helps your dog become more familiar with what’s expected of them.5 The other important thing to know is that not every dog will reach crate training at the same pace, so be sure to stock up on the treats now.
Reward The Good Behavior
As with any kind of dog training (including service dog and guide dog training), positive reinforcement is always necessary. Keep your tone warm and positive, and always reward your dog when they do something right. This helps them learn, especially if your puppy is younger.6
The whole point of crate training is to make sure your dog is comfortable and safe, not afraid and anxious. So, keep the treats, pets, and praise coming, and don’t use the crate as punishment — so your pup won’t associate it with something negative.
Crate training can take anywhere from a week or two to a couple of months. Be patient with yourself and your pet throughout the process. Remember, you’re both learning something new. With these tips and tricks at your disposal, training your pup (and keeping them from whining) in their crate will be an easier feat than navigating it blindly.
Once your pup starts to adjust, the whining, crying, and barking should diminish, and before you know it, your furry friend won’t have any problem with staying in their crate.